Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Anatomy of a tantrum.

I witnessed an event, today, that took my breath away. I told someone "no". I told this person that what they wanted "...wasn't going to happen!" When they persisted, I told them, "NO!" again.

As any mother of a toddler will affirm, sometimes this negative feedback can incite an unfavorable response. The person who has been disappointed, or contradicted, begins to become anxious. They become desperate to convince you that your argument is "mean" or "wrong". Their blood pressure rises and you can almost see that vein start to pop-out on their head. Some will begin to yell, often incoherently, or resort to ad hominem attacks. Others will simply dissolve into a fit of rage and tears. Some will tear their environment to shreds and stand, huffing and puffing, in the midst of the chaos they've created and wish upon you all of the evils in the world. In our house, when it appears, we call it "the stink eye."

I know many of my readers are thinking, "P-Momma! What on earth did you deny your poor little possum?" The answer is: nothing! The possums had quite a nice day. The hissy fit that I witnessed was performed by an evangelical Christian who I had the unpleasant circumstance to speak with regarding Armageddon. I asked said Christian, in what started as a cordial conversation, why -over eons of human history- holy men/women have been preaching a doctrine of "end times" and, yet, the world keeps turning. Despite the fact that the Bible clearly states that the "end of days" would occur shortly after the resurrection of Christ... it hasn't happened. I wondered, aloud, if it might be this open-ended (and unfulfilled, and unlikely to be fulfilled) prophecy might be part of the cause for the up-rising in American evangelicals. I wondered if, like the two year old who discovers they won't be going to the party, or that the party never existed in the first place, the fundamentalist evangelicals are just plain pissed off that their God has never made good on his promise of a really great party wherein they will enjoy special status. Every evangelical seems to be waiting or expecting the Horsemen. But, what does any self-respecting two year old do when the ponies are late? And, what havoc might it reap on their psyche when you tell them that the ponies will not only be late, but that they were never coming in the first place? I think you'd get a tantrum. I wasn't disappointed.
When I proposed that the Apocalypse wouldn't and couldn't come (because it was a man-made promise), this thirty-three year old, evangelical went bat shit crazy. I witnessed this thirty-three year old: cry, call me a "minion of evil", throw a book on the ground, and yell that *I* was being absurd.
This led to the most bizarre thought of my entire day: are we seeing the beginnings of a fundy tantrum? Are they becoming more desperate in their arguments and actions because the ponies aren't coming to their party?

32 comments:

RICHIEDEADHEAD said...

DEAREST

POLARIZATION == BiPOLAR == POLAR BEAR == POLAR EXPEDITION == P O L A R MELTDOWN == OPPOSITE ENDS OF THE POLE == ALL VERY CHIILING == FIREBRANDS IGNITE .... MANY TIMES FROM FRIGHT == CAUSE' IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO PROVE THEY'RE RIGHT == THEY TEND TO LOSE SIGHT OF THE VERY HUMANITY BEFORE THEM == IN THE HERE AND NOW == SO THEY HAVE A "COW" BY CASTIGATING THE VERY SOULS ORIGINALLY PINPOINTED FOR THEIR ETERNAL INCLUSION == IF SALVATION WERE GUARANTEED == WAL-MART WOULD STOCK IT !!!

PEACE == POSSUM MAMA !!

Tone said...

And this is one reason why I don't have children...or fundies.

fubarmonkey said...

Wow. Well, I've talked to a few "liberal" Christians about end times, and there are some among them that think its coming too. I've never had a tantrum from these discussions but some people shut down when they realize their belief isn't going anywhere and refuse to speak of it any further. The seed of doubt has been planted and they have to go home and spray it with "spiritual herbicide." :p

But some people just want the world to end. Heaven must be a really nice place.

fubarmonkey said...

Oh, and I'm just curious. Who started the discussion?

Nick said...

PMomma, could you share the context of this conversation? Setting, time, etc. I am Too curious as to how this came about.

Should have unloaded Isiah 45:7 on him, since he called you a minion of evil.

http://www.daylightatheism.org/2007/01/little-known-bible-verses-v-god-creates-evil.html

" I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things."

—Isaiah 45:7

or maybe the Epicurean Paradox, but that would have required him to follow a logical premise.
You were probably too stunned to see a grown man acting like an infant. Understandable.

-Freelancer

Lisbon-Paris-Bucharest said...

Priceless! Seriously where do you find this people? I never met a fundie in my life, I am surround buy atheist, agnostics, and catholics light (that would be the south European kind, you go to the mass, for social networking, but the weather outside is too damn good, for preaching dubious moral codes).

What you did is a bit mean; you are shattering the last belief that glues his sense of purpose together. If he gets a glimpse that there is uncertainty in the world, and that there will be no big party, where he can finally see all those heathens being tortured and punished for a life of live and let live, where he can finally avenge that huge feeling of missed fun, of course you will see a tantrum! Just kidding.

Really funny post, could you give a bit more detail? Please? “fundies say the darndest things” as been low in real crazy fundie lately, (expect for the usual suspects)I have to satisfy my morbid fascination with fundies.

Carlie said...

Interesting analysis! I had a very similar experience a couple of days ago with a college student who simply couldn't believe that I wouldn't give her some extra credit to raise her grade three weeks after the semester was over. She argued and cried about it for an hour, saying that she "refuse[d] to accept" that she got a low grade in the class, and that it didn't matter if it wasn't fair to everyone else in the class for her to get special treatment, she deserved it because she cared so much about her grade. Tantrum is a perfect way to describe it. Perhaps it's become a broader social phenomenon.

Carlie said...

...It also reminds me of a great scene in the movie Saved! (which is saccharine, but cute enough that everyone should watch it) in which the girl trying to witness to her backslidden friend gets so mad she throws a Bible at the back of the other girl's head as she's walking away.

markbt73 said...

Ooh! Ooh! I wanna play! Thanks for the idea; now I want to try. It's been a long time since I caused a meltdown among the flock. It's high time for aonther...

Maybe we should have a national "Make a Fundie Cry Day"?

Steve said...

Kids will be kids, even if they're thirty-three year old kids.

Secret Rapture said...

My inaugural address at the Great White Throne Judgment of the Dead, after I have raptured out billions! The Secret Rapture soon, by my hand!
Read My Inaugural Address
My Site=http://www.angelfire.com/crazy/spaceman

EridanMan said...

Hey Pmomma. long time lurker, first time poster.

I have to admit, the thought that the fundamentalist Evangelicals are 'breaking down' to the point that they're throwing the tantrum is both an amusing an appealing thought.

Unfortunately, I think its a somewhat optimistic appraisal of the situation.

To continue the metaphor, the party not only isn't coming, but last call was two millennia ago. Four-hundred-plus generations of Christians have been born, lived and died believing, whole-heartedly, that the rapture was coming within their lifetime.

It is, unfortunately, a self-perpetuating cycle of delusion... If it didn't happen in my parents life, it will happen in my life. If it doesn't happen in my life, it will happen during my children's lives... On and on Ad Infinitum.

There is always the sophomoric hope that as humanity 'matures', somehow, this cycle will break. Unfortunately, I think you would be hard pressed to show indication that society (as a whole or on average) is indeed 'maturing' in any way, shape, or form.

I would, in fact, argue the opposite is true... as the thresholds of logic reach further and further beyond the grasp of the 'average' individual, and the cutting edge of science and technology moves further and further towards the layman's definition of magic. When the everyday world is magic to them, what logical reason would then then have to choose the "magic" of science (which is obviously limited, and doesn't do much for them) over the "magic" of faith, where they can tailor their beliefs to glamorize their own position in the universe to their hearts content?

Summer Squirrel said...

I've had two recent emails from fundies who can't handle criticism of their deity and have removed me from their email list. (I've written about it on my blog.) It's too bad they can't take it like they dish it out, IMO.

Great post and funny as hell. Wish there was a video....

Summer

Lynn's Daughter said...

She's probably got her panties in a knot because Falwell's dead. Apparently there's a "new breed" of christians out there that are homo-tolerant and they're just going to send the whole world to HELL.
Meanwhi, however, the thought that the world will end soon removes all responsibility--to conserve resources, to help the poor, or to do something with your life other than sit on your ass and wait for the world to end. Y'know?

Kathryn said...

Generally I find that fundies seem to think the endtimes are coming because of all the bad things happening around the world these days.

They say this as if it's a new thing.

Don't they understand that with instant global communication, we are simply AWARE of all the bad things that are happening? Even just a hundred years ago, a lot of things happened and most people never found out; other things took a long time to be found out.

Just makes me shake my head.

smellincoffee said...

I actually think end-times hysteria is waning now that the start of the Millennium has passed us by. This Endtimes madness seems to have reached its speak in the 80s and 90s and as 2000/2001 approach. I've read that people were paranoid about the "Endtimes" in the 990s as well.

(Of course, W's policies could result in the End of the World, but he's only got a year and a half left so I'm optimistic.)

fubarmonkey said...

I wouldn't trust a superstitious man who has superstitious friends in control who are pissing off other superstitious people with the capacity to cause harm to the rest of us.

Dewey said...

I always thought the whole end times concept was a metaphor taken literally by people who are incapable of imagining their own death without the rest of the world dying along with them. To continue your analogy, sort of like a toddler who thinks you can't see her if she's covering your eyes. "If I cease to exist, everything ceases to exist."

Atheist in a mini van. said...

PMomma, could you share the context of this conversation? Setting, time, etc. I am Too curious as to how this came about.

Sorry, guys. I've been out of commission for a day or two.
The context: Two sister missionaries came by. Apparently, my LDS neighbor hadn't totally believed me when I said "If I were LDS, I'd be an apostate." She felt that I just needed the word to be "presented in the right manner." I had a migraine, the sisters rang the doorbell, and... you have the scenario outlined in my post. I was bitchy. They were persistent. I started laying out all of the problems with their speech and their book. Then, I went for broke and told them it was all a big fairy tale...except, "most fairy tales have more basis in fact than the Bible or your religion."
That's when the tantrum started.

It was a thing of subtle beauty, really. I don't know that they threw the BoM down, so much as they lofted it at my chest and I just let it fall. The weird part was, like a parent will do, I just kept standing there and saying, "No." to all of their statements, requests, and -finally- accusations. I think they've probably been prepared for people to argue with them. I don't think they've been prepared for someone to cooly tell them their peddling bullshit. One of the sisters kept saying, "If you don't want us to finish, just shut the door in our gosh darn faces so we can leave."
I replied, "no." and stared at her.

Oh yeah...I think my LDS neighbor has officially written me off for time-and-eternity now. *rolls eyes*

Virginia aka Ginny said...

It's amazing they refused to leave until you closed your door first. I'm glad you stood your ground. They were a bit out of line to say the least.

PerpetualBeginner said...

Hee!

When we have LDS at the door and don't want to deal, all we have to do is tell them (truthfully) that my husband has been officially consigned to the outer darkness. They go away quickly.

When I'm in the mood, I invite them in, sit them down and talk with them. So far all of those conversations have ended with the missionaries bolting out the door. In one particularly memorable incident the young woman of the pair was literally saying "But, wait!" to her older companion as she was being dragged out the door by her arm. Feminist theology was sounding pretty good to her, I think.

Nicholas said...

That's an excellent post! Very funny, until you realize that people like that are real, not just a bad joke. And to thinnk I almost married one of them. Eight years later I still get the shakes when I think of it!

demosthenesandlocke said...

i've understood what you're trying to understand for about a month and a half possum momma. why these people follow their religious leaders so vehemently, they know they do something that works, they just don't keep an open logical mind about it, the life force that binds us all will teach you. i call it it. be open to it my friend.

Tone said...

The missionaries don't come to my house any more. I kinda miss it sometimes (rarely). But there has been a bit of a debate lately in our local paper about people who are getting tired of the missionaries (LDS) not taking no, thank you for an answer and harassing people. They have started appearing in grocery store parking lots too.

Sean the Blogonaut said...

I just don't answer the door most of the time, they usually get bored and move on.

the invisible dragon under the bed said...

That is just sad, really. I do not understand a mindset that would cause someone to cling so desperately to something so ridiculous. I didn't buy that nonsense when I was a child in Sunday school (I was 'allowed' to sit by myself and read the bible, rather than participate, since I was 'disruptive'), I didn't buy it as a teenager when the jesus freaks and godsquaders were roaming the malls in the 60s and 70s and I sure as death don't buy it now.

I've never thought of just saying 'no' to the doorknockers before; I will definitely use that the next time they slither up. Thanks! You, your possums and your blog are gems!

Rev. BigDumbChimp said...

In one particularly memorable incident the young woman of the pair was literally saying "But, wait!" to her older companion as she was being dragged out the door by her arm. Feminist theology was sounding pretty good to her, I think.


I thought all female (and male for that matter) LDS missionaries were only allowed to go two by two with other missionaries of the same sex.

Has that changed. Sorry to be picky, I've just never heard of that before.

fubarmonkey said...

I never had an LDS missionary come to my house, just JWs. In fact, in my circle of friends, I only know of one Mormon (ironically "married" to my best friend who is not a Mormon). :p

Atheist in a mini van. said...

I've never had a sister Mormom missionary that was that OLD show up on my doorstep. Usually, they're late-teens to mid-20's.

Tone said...

Was it an older couple? Senior couples do go on missions I think senior singles can also do missionary work at the temples.

Alyx said...

What scares me is that the Evangelical temper tantrum threatens to tear apart the whole world in its thwarted toddler rage. "If Jesus isn't going to Rapture us and destroy the world, then by god we'll destroy it FOR him!!!!!"

By the way, what does "consigned to the outer darkness" mean and why would it scare Mormons away?

Radix2 said...

I presume you are all familiar with Rapture ready ( http://www.raptureready.com/ ).

It is a disheartening view into this mindset. :-(